Orlando

Things to do in Orlando

Orlando abounds with theme parks. You'll need weeks to see everything or you will have to pick and choose from: Walt Disney World Resort, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach Water Park, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Typhoon Lagoon; the two theme parks at Universal Orlando Resort—Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida; three parks from SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment—SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica—SeaWorld's Waterpark and Discovery Cove; and LEGOLAND Florida.

Just in case you might be sick of theme parks, there are some great museums sports and entertainment venues. Catch a show by Cirque de Soleil or the Blue Man Group or stroll the streets at exciting entertainment complexes like Universal City Walk, Downtown Disney, Pointe Orlando Orlando's Church Street. Dine, listen to music, catch the shows and shop. It's all there.
Orlando has a rich history that predates Disney’s arrival. This is Orlando’s five hundredth anniversary. It's an ideal time to visit Wells' Built Museum of African American History.

Orlando hosts more golf tournaments than any other location. Don't miss a chance to see Ernie Els, Tiger Woods, or Rory McIlroy.

The city’s most thrill-filled coaster-and-flume park is also one of the most spectacularly designed; rides are all located in lavish, themed “islands,” most based on movies or TV shows.

Part of the Downtown Disney Marketplace, this 50,000-square-foot landmark is the largest Disney character store in the world.

The thrill factor is in full effect at this park—with attractions like Disaster (which simulates an 8.0-scale earthquake), Revenge of the Mummy (an indoor coaster that wheels past grasping monsters), and Jaws (a boat ride interrupted by the relentless attacks of…well, you know).

This delightfully tacky roadside stall topped by a 60-foot orange dome has been a landmark of Americana since the early 70’s. It remains the prototypical Florida souvenir shop, selling lime jelly, shellacked gator heads, monogrammed mugs, and oranges and grapefruits by the bushel.

 

Wild animals of every stripe can be seen here, in regionally themed habitats that are scattered across the park. There’s the Pangani Forest habitat, for instance, home to gorillas, hippos, and African birds; and a Maharajah Jungle habitat with tigers, bats, and Komodo dragons.

Set inside a museum that has one of the country’s finest, most complete collections of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass, this gift shop is stocked with a tasteful selection of vases, art glass, jewelry, and valentine-ready paper goods.

 

An Indiana Jones stunt show and a retelling of The Little Mermaid top the long list of kid-oriented shows at this park, called Disney-MGM Studios until 2008.

A 30-acre collection of bars, restaurants, and dance-till-two nightspots wedged between the Universal theme parks, CityWalk outweighs Pleasure Island, Disney’s much squarer rival.

Slightly more adult-oriented than the other Disney theme parks, Epcot doesn’t have as many hair-raising thrill rides as its neighbors do. But its exhilarating hang-gliding simulator, Soarin’, and its gardens and wide-open spaces make for a great day out.

Around since 1991, the SAK Comedy Lab improve venue has been the launching pad for several nationally known stars, including The Price Is Right host Wayne Brady.

The busiest theme park in the world (with somewhere around 17 million annual visitors), the Magic Kingdom is home base to the most famous rides in the Disney pantheon, including Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, the Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight, and Splash Mounta

With its striped cabanas, potted palms, and a view of downtown Orlando, SKYSIXTY the vibe is reminiscent of Miami’s South Beach. Grab a booth, or sip a mojito or mimosa on the gray-cushioned couches and chairs.

Set inside a museum that has one of the country’s finest, most complete collections of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass, this gift shop is stocked with a tasteful selection of vases, art glass, jewelry, and valentine-ready paper goods.

 

Some of humankind’s greatest adventures began here at NASA’s launch headquarters, an easy hour east of Orlando on the Atlantic coast. Time your visit right, and you may see a space shuttle streak into the sky on liftoff (visible all around the state but much better from up close).

Disney is the best cruise line for families. What may surprise you is that the 1,760-passenger Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are gorgeous ships, even without Disney touches like character appearances and first-run movies.